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The Morning Grumpy – 3/27/12

27 Mar

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

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1. It’s tax season and most of you, like Tim Geithner, have paid to use TurboTax to file your return. But, wouldn’t it be cool if you didn’t have to file a return?

Imagine filing your income taxes in five minutes — and for free. You’d open up a pre-filled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone.

It’s already a reality in Denmark, Sweden and Spain. The government-prepared return would estimate your taxes using information your employer and bank already send it. Advocates say tens of millions of taxpayers could use such a system each year, saving them a collective $2 billion and 225 million hours in prep costs and time, according to one estimate.

The idea, known as “return-free filing,” would be a voluntary alternative to hiring a tax preparer or using commercial tax software. The concept has been around for decades and has been endorsed by both President Ronald Reagan and a campaigning President Obama.

It’s being done in many places around the world and Intuit (the makers of TurboTax) has spent a lot of money to make sure it’ll never happen in America.

Intuit has spent about $11.5 million on federal lobbying in the past five years — more than Apple or Amazon. Although the lobbying spans a range of issues, Intuit’s disclosures pointedly note that the company “opposes IRS government tax preparation.”

I’m sure Tom Bauerle fans and other right-wing lunatics would oppose the idea of government-prepared returns anyhow and claim the IRS is going to mark you with the number of the socialist beast to better identify you in a FEMA camp, but Intuit is hedging it’s bets and paying off Congress to keep things difficult for taxpayers.

2. America’s health-care prices are ludicrous: “We pay much, much more than other countries do for the exact same things.”

3. The ascendance of liberalism is due to generational change and the economy.

4. Alternative weekly newspapers are dead, long live alt-weeklies!

5. It’s become clear that Americans, broadly speaking, have little idea as to the scale of our “drone war”. Well, problem solved. The Guardian has a great interactive visual showing every drone attack in Pakistan.

6. I think I linked to this last month, but a recent Buzzfeed article got me thinking about this magnificent piece of journalism again. The extraordinary science of addictive junk food.

7. Generation Naïve: Why Young People Can’t Help Falling for Strangers Online

8. The day that TV news died was the day Phil Donahue was fired by MSNBC for opposing the war in Iraq.

Fact Of The Day: Mother Teresa believed suffering brought people closer to Jesus and therefore withheld pain killers from her patients.

Quote Of The Day: “Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults.” -Abraham Lincoln

Video Of The Day: Russians make the best music videos. Ever. “Bad Motherfucker, Insane Office Escape 2” – Crazy violence.

Song Of The Day: “Busman’s Holiday” – Allah-Las

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